We have just returned from a 12 night stay in a lagoon room at the Al Bustan Palace.
Firstly, I would highly recommend flying with Oman Air - the business class service is the best we've had. We were met by their staff at Muscat airport and fast tracked through the visa process. Ensure you have 20 Omani Riyal per person for stays over 10 nights for the visa fee.
You purchase the visa from the Travelex desk as you enter the arrivals hall. They give you a receipt and then you proceed to the visa issue desks.
Having stayed in Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the past, we found the Omani people we met to be friendly and to have very tolerant views about other cultures and faiths. There is more of a sense of traditional culture than in modern cities like Dubai.
We arrived at the Al Bustan at around 9am and were in awe of the stunning lobby with it's domed ceiling, sheer height of the space, acres of marble, huge chandeliers.
We expected to be told check-in was 2pm but the reception staff advised they would try to get us a courtesy room and offered us some complimentary drinks whilst we waited. In fact, within 20 minutes our room was ready and we were able to check in without delay.
We chose a lagoon room as it has direct access to a lagoon pool and your own loungers on the deck outside your room. We don't appreciate having to struggle to find a lounger. However, this was never an issue at the Al Bustan. They have so many loungers around the main pool, on a deck by the beach and on the lawns that you can find free loungers at any time of day.
The main pool is huge and beautifully landscaped with palm trees and large urns along side. Beach attendants bring you towels and an ice box with complimentary water - which is a nice touch. They also bring small smoothies/ iced fruits later in the day.
The rooms have a free soft drinks/ water mini bar which is very generous.
The lagoon room was very spacious with a seating area as well as a king sized bed and tastefully decorated. The whole hotel was very clean.
However the pools were cold and I feel should have been heated as the daytime temperatures were not high enough to warm the pools naturally
The breakfast buffet has excellent crepes, croissants and all the other cooked breakfast items
Usually I never eat at buffets due to the poor quality of the food but the Al Khiran restaurant buffets were all excellent. Especially the seafood buffet where you could have as much lobster/ king prawns/ tuna grilled as you could manage. The Arabic night was also very good - you must try the traditional Omani pudding - "Um Ali" which is very much like a bread and butter pudding - delicious.
They do offer a la carte and you can even ask for a "Half Buffet" - where for 10 OR you can have a main course and salad from the buffet. This is just another example of how hard they try to tailor what they provide to suit you
One day there was a storm and a power failure where the generators failed. The power wasn't out for long but the staff all rallied together to serve a buffet at the Al Khiran by candle light (romantic) - they then made the meal complimentary to apologise for the inconvenience of the power cut. We felt that was generous and appreciated the gesture.
The staff at all the restaurants, bars, the cleaners , the beach attendants are all polite, approachable, helpful and seem very happy in their jobs. They are the main reason we would want to return to the Al Bustan. The service is personal and many knew our names within a few days of our arrival.
The management must work hard to ensure staff keep standards of customer care are kept high
If you enjoy a cocktail you must try the pool bar where Esteban, the resident mixologist, will make the perfect cocktail, tailored specifically to your taste. I am extremely fussy about how my cocktails are prepared but Esteban didn't disappoint with his mixology skills. Order any cocktail you like - even if it's not on the menu, and he will make it for you.
The Marjan bar is an elegant place to have an evening cocktail - but, due to all the marble and the acoustics, families with small children would probably enjoy the pool bar more as there is space for the children to play and noise isn't such an issue.
When you're not too hungry you can have bar snacks instead of an evening meal. The prawn quesadillas were good and the portion was large
China Mood restaurant serves authentic high quality Chinese food in a lovely setting and with a Chinese tea ceremony show
The beach is private and the mountains behind the hotel make for a picturesque setting
Food and drinks are very expensive so it is worth considering half board. They provide complimentary fruit in your room daily and welcome chocolates on arrival as well as with the turn down service
I would thoroughly recommend the Al Bustan to all mature couples (who seem to be the main clientele).
There were hardly any families whilst we were there.
Families with young children may prefer a hotel with lots of other families where children can play together and parents don't need to be concerned re children running around or making noise.
Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay and the excellent service at this luxury hotel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.